State bodies reply to BAJ statement
Some state bodies, to which BAJ sent the statement against administrative prosecution of freelance journalists, give unsatisfactory replies.
We remind that on September 26 BAJ made a statement demanding to stop administrative prosecution of freelance journalists and stop pressurizing them if they publish their materials in foreign mass media; to bring protests against the judicial decisions delivered against journalists under part 2 of art. 22.9 of the CoAV; and to bring legal acts related to the sphere of free expression in compliance with the Constitution and the ICCPR.
The text of the statement was sent to the Prosecutor General, to the Minister of Home Affairs, to the chairperson of the Permanent Commission on human rights, national relations and mass media of the Chamber of Representatives of the National Assembly, and to the chairperson of the Supreme Court.
The first reply came from the Chamber of Representatives. The Commission says “they are not entitled to control activities of courts and other state bodies, and to assess lawfulness of their decisions”. The chairperson Aliaksandr Naumovich recommended protesting the court decisions in courts of higher instances and protesting actions of the police in the Ministry of Home Affairs. As for the Parliament's direct responsibility – to bring legal acts in compliance with the Constitution and international respective laws – the chairperson promised to reply within the term as envisaged by law (that is within a month).
On October 10 BAJ received a reply from the Ministry of Home Affairs. Deputy head of the chief department of law enforcement and crime prevention of the MHA Aleh Karazey replied that “all the facts of police reports on administrative violations under art. 22.9, p.2 that you mentioned have been considered by courts. The MHA is not entitled to reviewing them.” He reminded that it is the Ministry of Information which is responsible for regulating mass media sphere. So, he recommended addressing all ideas on improving the legislation to the Ministry of Information.
Meanwhile, since the statement was released, two more journalists have been fined according to art. 22.9, part 2.